A Vision of the Trail System
"To make a greenway is to make a community.
And Lord knows, we are needful of community these days."
--Charles Little, in Greenways for America, 1995
If planning is the process of bringing dreams to life, then the vision is the dream itself. It defines where we are heading. The rest of the plan will lay out how we hope to get there. A good vision will keep us on course, even if we never actually reach it. The vision should be daring, even a bit unrealistic.
It must also complement the larger goals of the University. As Alaska's Land, Sea, and Space-Grant Institution, UAF has a statutory obligation to provide education and research as its highest priorities. This plan must be in accord with that mission. It seeks to encourage research, educational, and recreational use of the trails while sustaining the area's natural qualities and value as open space.
This plan envisions a campus where...
Eighty years from now, the north campus lands and trails look much as they do today—with lots of woods and a rustic, rural character.
The management of the trails respects and enhances the research and education missions of the University—and the teachers and researchers respect the trails.
Trails return to their former prominence as a vital lifeline linking the heart of campus to the community beyond with a minimum of road crossings.
Trails are managed to provide safe, year-round access for education, research, non-motorized recreation, physical fitness, athletic training, nature study, solitude and commuting.
UAF formally recognizes the trail system as one of its finest assets and the most cost-effective recreational facility on a per user basis and makes a commitment to protecting and maintaining trails.
People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to use the trails for outdoor recreation. Trails promote good mental and physical health and the trails are also one of the most popular and least expensive facilities enjoyed by the general public.
Trails provide access to the natural world and pass near every dormitory and major destination throughout the campus.
Trails are managed to promote good stewardship of the adjacent land and to sustain the area's natural qualities and value as open space.
The value of the areas and the original intent of those who founded the Experiment Station in 1906, Smith Lake Wildlife Preserve in 1950, the Boreal Arboretum in 1968, and the BioSciences Research Reserve are honored.
Trails are considered at every stage of the master planning process as are buildings, roads, and utilities. Future developments at UAF are planned to preclude or minimize impact to the trails, with a standard policy being "no net loss" of trails. Trails should only be moved as a last resort, in which case, a new trail must be routed around, under or over the development.
Every new building on campus includes a path that links it to the trail system.
Bike lanes are found along every road on campus and sidewalks on both sides of every road.
Some trails provide an intimate connection with nature via narrow, rustic paths that meander through the forest. Other trails allow users to recreate together and are wide enough to safely handle the thrill of skiing fast.
The wider, smoother trails are viewed as an athletic facility (much as a "linear hockey rink" ), are groomed for skate and classic skiing in the winter and walking/jogging in the summer and are maintained in top condition for use as a physical fitness facility.
Trails are designed and managed to maintain a wooded buffer between the trails and any nearby developed areas.
Any changes to the trail system and its facilities and amenities, from new construction to maintenance, follow an established process of approval.
The trails cannot be all things to all people; multiple use trails are great in theory, but in practice they often become a "multiple mess." The UAF trails should be managed to accommodate as many non-motorized uses as possible as long as they can be handled safely, the trails themselves and the lands adjacent to them are not harmed, and provided that previous long-standing uses are not seriously degraded as a result. Uses that are not compatible can be separated by trail and/or by season.